Pity poor Reuben

by on 27 June, 2013

by Wallace Grimsbury, political analyst.

It is entirely possible that as Julia and Tim pack up and leave The Lodge, our former PM could well be reflecting on US President Harry Truman’s observation that if you wanted a friend in Washington, you got a dog.

When it comes down to the dog eat dog world of politics, the latest leadership blood bath inside the ALP shows that they could teach our canine chums a thing or three about how to become leader of the pack.

In all of this, I am most concerned about Reuben – the sadly former First Dog.

He’s been happily living at The Lodge since November 2011 when he was given to Julia by Tim as a 50th birthday present. Dog owners know that their pets can be quite distressed and disorientated by a sudden upset in their domestic circumstances and, after all, Reuben has done no wrong at all. In fact, he was probably Julia most devoted and unquestionably loyal supporter.

Victorian Liberal Premier Denis Napthine even jokingly suggested early in June that Reuben would make a better ALP leader and Prime Minister than his owner.  

It was Reuben who went along with Julia for the famous staged five-hour photo shoot of his leader knitting away for the Australian Women’s Weekly and, reviewing those snaps in the light of subsequent developments, I am sure I can detect in Reuben a look of resignation, of despair and of sheer bloody exhaustion.

He has been ruthlessly exploited by Julia and, frankly, in the aftermath of her demise if he runs away and joins the Young Liberals, she only has herself to blame. She should remember that US President Lyndon Johnson got himself into more hot water when he held his dog up by its ears than when he carpet bombed large chunks of Asia.

On the eve of the first State of Origin test, Julia tweeted that there was division in the Prime Ministerial household – Tim was for the Maroons, Reuben was for the Blues. We were treated to a lovely photo of Reuben resplendent in a blue beanie and scarf and looking particularly pleased with himself. 

Well, his instincts proved to be right that time. No doubt his loyalty to the Blues was maintained for the second State of Origin – we will never know because his leader was otherwise occupied – so that fateful night was a double disappointment for him. 

While others pretend they are interested in whom PM Rudd appoints as Ministers, my interest is in how Abby, the born-again PM’s faithful family mutt will take to living at The Lodge again. Back in May 2010, Rudd’s wife Therese Rein told Dog’s Life magazine that Abby – their golden retriever – was “in heaven” living at The Lodge “chasing birds and rabbits”.

Abby, it seems, has a marvellous physic connection to Kevin which is more than most members of the Parliamentary ALP had at least until just recently. “Abby is very knowing – she knows when Kevin is coming home. “Ten minutes before the phone rings to signal he’s on his way, she will go and wait at the front door for him,” said Ms Rein.

It was Kevin who with actor Rhys Muldoon co-wrote a children’s book “Jasper and Abby and the Great Australia Day Kerfuffle” in which the Prime Ministerial cat Jasper (now sadly gone to his maker) and Abby see off a “scruffy little dog Chewy” who was causing mayhem at a function at The Lodge. I was surprised they didn’t call this irresponsible and scruffy interloper Tony.

It would not surprise me one bit if it is Kevin’s most popular book.

US President George Bush Senior’s wife Barbara wrote a book, “Millie’s book: As Dictated to Barbara Bush” which described a day in the life of the President through the eyes of his spaniel Millie. He must have been chagrined when that book outsold his own autobiography but, after all, Millie was a good deal more attractive and probably brighter to.

The acknowledged master at the political dark arts, US President Richard Nixon saved his own political career in 1952 when he was campaigning as Vice Presidential candidate under Dwight D Eisenhower and was accused of having a secret slush fund.

He played the dog card so effectively that his televised speech became known as the Checkers speech – after his cocker spaniel. He flatly denied he had any slush fund but conceded, with appropriate emotion, that he had received one gift – Checkers – and “that I’m not giving back.” It saved his career.

And as Reuben departs for a new home and as Abby prepares to go back to where she had such a happy hunting ground, perhaps we should be thinking more about a cute little doggie by the name of Maisie and how she will take to living at The Lodge.

Yes, Maisie is Tony Abbott’s pooch.  







Leave a Reply